KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — After charges were brought against four people for animal cruelty, pet owners expressed relief that action was taken.
The charges come a week after nearly 40 animals were seized from the home of Haylee Morris, one of the four people charged.
Natalie Hartman is one of several pet owners left grieving. She had left her dog, Koda, with Morris while out of town. A few days into her trip, she received texts that Koda had passed away.
“I think going forward, I don’t think I’ll ever trust my dog with anybody again, it would only be friends and family going forward,” Hartman said. “I would say for people who do drop their pets off, just make sure you go into the environment, I think that’s what a lot of us pet owners that are victims did not do.”
Dakota Hayes is a dog trainer that feels the same way. She declined to have Morris pet sit her dog after she was not allowed to see Morris’ home beforehand.
“She was someone I trusted, and you know what brings me fear? What would she have done to him in not even 12 hours?” Hayes said.
Each of the four people charged is facing two counts of felony aggravated cruelty to animals, two counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals and one count of a misdemeanor violation of rabies laws, according to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.
Hayes does not think the charges are severe enough.
“I’m happy that she got charged but I’m very disappointed with the charge, I feel like those animals deserve more than two felony charges,” Hayes said. “She took lives away from living being animals that had feelings, they had emotions, people instilled their trust in these animals and this woman for these animals, and she killed them.”
As for Hartman, she is glad Morris is not the only one being charged.
“I’m glad to see that they’re all getting what they deserve,” she said.
One of the pet owners affected set up a GoFundMe to support the victims.